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The city’s new development code has new rules for short-term rentals — private homes that are rented by the night or weekend. A couple dozen homes in Denton are listed on Airbnb.

New regulations are looming for Denton’s short-term home-rental businesses, adopted as part of the sweeping new development code going into effect this fall.

Denton listings on rental websites, Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, total about 50 or so homes. The listings vary from backyard guest houses and campers to entire houses. Customer reviews show the homes being rented by everyone from the casual tourist to the visiting professor. But come October, the property hosts will be required to register their short-term rentals with the city.

City leaders consulted with a land-use attorney as they developed the new rules, which are like those in Addison, Coppell and other cities, according to Scott McDonald, director of development services.

“We want to make sure some minimum requirements are met,” McDonald said. “The code will help protect both residents and visitors.”

The new rules allow short-term rentals in any residential district and in mixed-use districts.

That news may concern some homeowners worried about loud parties and extra cars in their neighborhood on instances like game days and graduation weekends.

Dennis Engler, a longtime Denton attorney who teaches property management courses in the business school at the University of North Texas, said that’s the kind of concern that led cities like Arlington to limit short-term rentals to its entertainment district.

“People are renting a party spot for a three-day weekend,” Engler said. “It causes a lot of dismay in the neighborhoods.”

Denton’s new rules do, for example, require short-term rental owners to prohibit parties and include the prohibition in their listings. In addition, the registration requires business owners to list how many cars they can safely accommodate on the property. Parking spillover onto city streets isn’t allowed.

Cities have the authority to zone property and also to regulate for the health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors, so Airbnb hosts should be aware that such rule-making can come their way, Engler said.

In the new code, the city reserves the right to inspect properties. Both the apartment industry and the hotel industry are heavily regulated for people’s safety, he added.

But cities are also interested in developing their tax base and the occupancy tax for overnight stays is lucrative, Engler said.

One of Denton’s new rules could be viewed as a check on speculative investment in flipping the city’s housing stock for short-term rentals. When registering, Denton hosts must demonstrate to the city the property is their primary residence.

When Airbnb and similar platforms debuted, they touted their services as home-sharing—renting out all or part of your own home. According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, Airbnb has about 5 million properties listed worldwide. The service is getting additional scrutiny in some communities because hosts appear to be operating some properties as illegal hotels.

Whether that registration rule affects local listings for the long-term remains to be seen. Some of Denton’s highest-rated hosts are listing homes that are not their primary residence.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reached out to two Airbnb hosts in the city, but both declined to comment for this story.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfe DRC.

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